Race Report: Memorial Day Gate-to-Gate

Race reports in 2022… We’re going get to the race report part, but first… boy howdy, 2022 has been a dang year already, hasn’t’ it?

If you get my news letter, you know I’ve been battling some health issues. (If you don’t get the newsletter, you can sign up here.) After too many doctors visits, multiple ultrasounds/CTs, a trip to the ER, and surgery, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness known as endometriosis. Unlucky for me, it’s in Stage III with DIE (“deeply infiltrative endometriosis,” it also makes you feel like you’re dying) and I’m really going through it right now.

Surgery was semi-successful, dropping my daily pain from 7/10 down to 3/10. But the first course of medication was a failure and the new meds have some gnarly side effects. (Blah, blah, blah: “this medication has been prescribed because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects.”)

Side effects: nausea, vomiting, insomnia, amenorrhea, hot flashes, fatigue, more fatigue, and for fun, and extra side of fatigue. To say it’s had an impact on running would be putting it mildly. However, I’ve been slogging through and trying to keep my focus on small goals. No ultra marathons for me this year, but a 4.4-miler sounded like a small, but surmountable challenge.


Today you’re getting my full race report for Memorial Day Gate-to-Gate – 4.4 mi Race

This is an interesting one because it is executed by and run entirely on Eglin Air Force Base. The race is held the morning of Memorial Day and has some beautiful tributes to our fallen heroes.

Check in:

Because this is run by the base, the first two days you can only do packet pick up on base. No ID, no pick up. Closer to the race, you can pick them up at the local running shop. I was a dumbass and forgot all four day and therefore had to pick up at 5:30 the morning of the race.

Starting line:

Wow. This was a military race. Pad the pad, to pad the pad. Race starts at 7, be in place no later than 6:30, have to get your packet by 6am and expect 30-60 minutes to get on base if you aren’t an ID holder. Fortunately I live on base so I was able to leave my house at 5:30 and be in line for my packet at 5:45. I then had over an hour to stand around.

The starting line was nice though. They had corrals for different paces but I think they over estimate the abilities of their average runner: 6 min/mi, 6:30 min/mi, 7, 7:30, 8…. then a gaggle of hundreds with those fast pace groups almost empty. They also offered paper carnations to everyone that would late be dropped at the All Wars memorial which was a very nice touch.

The course:

Not the most beautiful course, it was run on the base roads but I appreciated dropping flowers at the All War memorial and the bag piper serenading us as we ran by.

Race course
One big 4.4 mile loop

Weather: Hot and hotter! At the 7 am race start, it was a warm 78F and humid. There was a weird, early morning fog layer that laid on the upper parts of the course (looked cool running past a bag piper in the mist) but it all burned off by the time we got down the hill. Which is unfortunate because there wasn’t an inch of shade the last two miles.

Terrain: Flat for the first mile, a gentle downhill to the base of the runway. Then it’s all flat until the very end where you run back up every inch you ran down earlier in about 200m.

Aid stations:

Let me start with a big “WTAF?” to the course organizers. There were probably 600 folks between walkers and runners, Athlinks says I was the 76th person to cross the finish line, rough math says top 15%…. and by the FIRST aid station, they were out of cups. And the second. And the third. And the last.

Honest to goodness, how do you have a race with 600 registered participants and have cups for only 10% of them???

I was so mad. My running partner was mad. Everyone around us was mad. By mile three people were stopping to throw up on the side of the course due to heat and no water. They were already rolling the fire trucks and ambulance as we came up the last hill and they tried to stop us crossing to get the truck by. It was bad!

Did I hit the Pain Cave?

Not really. Not for running anyway. Hot and humid with no water? Eh, not too bad. But I’ve been in pain so long they’re bumped me over into the chronic pain management regime. So, one could say I’ve made a home in the Pain Cave for the last few months. I’m ready to move out and move on.

Crew:

No crew for this race and it was short enough that I didn’t need a pacer, but my usual running partner was there and we pushed each other despite dehydration driven crankiness.

The finish line:

A little party with a small up of beer and some cold Popeye’s chicken then the usual booths of post run junk: cups, magnets, fliers for other races. My partner and I declined all but the beer then hunted down bottles of water. We were scorched and cranky and didn’t stay for awards.

Memorial Day race medal

Final time:

43:52 for 4.4 mi. My goal was to hold a gentle 10:00 min/mi pace and I was just a hair faster, clocking in at 9:54 min/mi. It was slow and plodding for a road course but I made my goal and these days, that’s a win.

Overall thoughts:

This was the first time the base was able to hold this race in two years and it showed. The volunteers were polite and friendly but the logistics of the race were a disaster. I can’t say I’ll come back again, even with it being literally in my backyard. Unfortunately, this is last local race of the season, we don’t get anything else until Paddle at the Park in August and no running races until October’s Wicked Triple. If I want another race, it’ll have to be north of here, like the Charlotte RaceFest.


The Gear List:

My gear lists so folks can see what I’m carrying and how it changes between courses and weather. As usual, some affiliate links, most aren’t; I am not sponsored by any specific companies.

Clothes:

Tank top: my trusty Skirt Sports tank top. Unfortunately, then the original owners sold, they dropped this particular top and its not for sale any longer. It’s a great top layer for hot/humid runs and it gave me minimal chaffing.

Bra: SheFit ULTIMATE SPORTS BRA – a qualified “good.” I like that you buy based on cup size and both the chest band and shoulder straps are adjustable; it’s probably the most comfortable sports bra I have. That said, the metal loop that holds the chest band tab tears my back up after 5 miles and I was starting to feel it coming up the hill at mile 4. I should have put my two strips of sports tape under the tab.

Shorts: Nike Fast Shorts – What a game changer for me! I have thick, thicc thighs from trail running and squats. They rub together. All the time. In tights, it’s not an issue but in loose shorts, I end up chaffed. And most stretch shorts only have a 5″ inseam which means the end *right* where my thighs rub. However, Nike’s new trail shorts have a blessed 7″ inseam which left me mostly chaffing free, but for the humidity, it was inevitable.

Socks: Balega Blister Resist Quarter Socks – These are thick and comfy, but the “blister resist” is only as good as how well you lace your shoes and how wet your feet get. At some point, no sock/shoe combo will save you from everything.

Shoes: Altra Provision – I have both the Provision and the Torin but chose the Provision today since it gives a little more stability, something I probably needed with the foot pain I’ve experienced lately.

Hat: My trusty finishers hat from the River Cities Tri a few years ago. It wasn’t cool enough to need a warmer hat.

Nutrition:

Snacks, self carried: None because I didn’t think I’d need to carry water.

Other:

GPS: Garmin Forerunner 945 – Y’all know I love this watch and I’ve talked about it before, the good and bad. I didn’t have any tracks walk-offs today and I’m confident in the recorded distance/time accurately.


Happy trails!


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